Retention is better than cure

Retention is better than cure

The days when people expected to spend 30 to 50 years with one company are long gone. Younger generations are job hopping more than ever, staying in one position, or with one company, for only a few years and viewing each position as a stepping stone to reach their goals quickly. What effect is this having on businesses?

There is nothing wrong with ambition, right? Most certainly not, but it is problematic if you consider that employees no longer intend spending decades slowly moving up the corporate ladder before eventually retiring and taking up golf …

Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions – one of South Africa’s leading staffing solutions companies within the white-collar recruitment industry – notes that the younger generation (currently in their 20s) are job hopping more than ever, staying in one position, or with one company, for only a few years.

“Nowadays, employees don’t think twice about ‘job hopping’ – changing jobs often enough for it to be noticed – if a bigger or better opportunity comes up with greater promise of growth or compensation,” Vittee points out. “They view each position as a stepping stone to reach their goals quickly.”

This causes problems for the organisation that’s being left behind as the cost of hiring a new employee goes far beyond their salaries – it involves a lot of time, training and resources.

According to the United States Bureau of Labour’s statistics, in 2013 the average time that an employee stayed with their current employer was 4,6 years, while young employees, between the ages of 20 and 34, stayed with one employer for only 2,3 years.

“For businesses to thrive, finding and retaining the best employees is crucial,” Vittee points out. “When employees resign, especially when they are in and out every few years, costs are incurred in recruiting and training new employees.” She adds that this also lowers productivity until the new employees learn the day-to-day needs of the business.

The importance of retention is emphasised in Global Human Capital’s survey: Engaging the 21st Century Workforce. It notes that, after surveying 2 532 businesses and human resource leaders across 94 countries in 2014, one of the most urgent trends for businesses (after leadership) is retention and engagement.

“With this in mind, it is important to understand why job hoppers ‘hop’,” Vittee points out. “According to LinkedIn’s ‘Talent Trends 2014’, the top motivations for ‘actively looking individuals’ to change jobs are opportunities for advancement and better compensation and benefits. These motivators can easily be addressed by employers to retain employees, perhaps not for 40 years – but at least for four or five.”

Vittee provides some tips on how to retain your employees:

• Consult or hire human resources (HR) professionals – who are able to streamline structures and processes, monitor and address employee needs and are up to date on employment laws and regulations.

• Be competitive to stand out – offering your staff benefits like medical aid or life insurance contribution, retirement savings or flexible working hours can make your business a more attractive place to work.

• Invest in your staff – whether through training or refresher courses, keeping your staff up to date on industry trends and developments makes them feel important, and ensures that your business doesn’t fall behind.

• Communicate opportunities for internal career growth – employees will become frustrated and may lose motivation if they do not see a clear future for themselves at your company. Let them know how to get to the position and pay grade they are after – without having to look elsewhere.

• Recognise staff accomplishments – from long service awards to prizes for the top achieving team. Recognising the effort and time your employees have put into your business will make them feel appreciated and connected to your company and its vision.

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